Cageprisoners Ltd is a human rights organisation (company registration no: 6397573) that exists solely to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror. The site was launched in October 2003 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan by individual Muslim volunteers who came together for the reasons set out below.
To see a return to the respect of those fundamental norms which transcend religion, societies and political theories. It is the vision of Cageprisoners that abuse of individuals and demonization of societies be eradicated completely and that respect for human rights is unequivocally promoted globally.
To improve the circumstances and situation of political detainees worldwide, specifically those interned as a result of the War on Terror and its side campaigns.
To use our strengths and experience to work for those political detainees with focus on:
• Due process
• Equal/non-discriminatory application of the law
• Enforcement of basic rights globally
• Fair trials using evidence of internationally required standards
• Badly drafted legislation which criminalises dissent and prosecutes dissenting members of the Muslim community – targeting the process which makes them ‘detainees’
The work carried out by Cageprisoners requires that the following values be adhered to in order to serve the interests of those that have been detained:
Prisoner understanding – one of the major assets of Cageprisoners, is the role which its staff and volunteers play in understanding the detainees themselves. Often organisations do not understand the cultural, religious or social needs of those they try and represent; thus Cageprisoners stands as a bridge between the detainees and possible solutions they may be able to benefit from in the legal and political world. Further, the ethos of the organisation requires that no action be taken which would be offensive to the detainee, to always try and work within the way those detained would have us represent them.
Common understanding – With Muslim communities around the world being targeted by the global ‘War on Terror’ a response is required that brings together the Islamic world with the non-Islamic one. Cageprisoners relies on Islamic doctrines relating to due process to highlight in the Muslim world the same policies that exist in the non-Muslim one; by doing so that aim is to reach a common understanding of what is at stake in terms of human behaviour and how to promote a return to human rights.
Due process – It is not only the right to a fair trial that Cageprisoners promotes, rather the morality of the law. Thus even though national legislation in various jurisdictions may be given a veneer of legality, in reality they go against the conscience of the law. Thus our understanding of due process goes to the very heart of the counter-terrorism policies that are implemented, whether legally or illegally.
Cageprisoners is not an advocacy organisation and consequentially does not seek to make representations on behalf of individuals in courts of law. However, the organisation seeks to highlight individual cases in order to draw attention to entire classes of detainees due to a dearth of resources.
Pragmatism plays an important role in the way we conduct our work – impact for those detained guides the way in which we conduct our campaigns in the hope of providing relief to a larger class of detainee. By pragmatism it is meant that by selectively choosing cases based on our resources the objectives of the organisation can be reached for others beyond the individual case.
Cageprisoners uses the language and understanding of international human rights and humanitarian law in order promote the rights of detainees around the world.
The organisation operates in a number of different ways with the stated purposes:
1. EDUCATE the public by being a comprehensive resource of information on Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror highlighting their plight and ensuring that they are never forgotten.
2. CAMPAIGN for the repatriation or asylum for the Guantanamo Bay detainees in particular and that other prisoners around the world are treated within the civilised norms of justice, and to ensure that they are given their due rights namely:
• the right to humane treatment and conditions
• the right not to be tortured
• the right not to be detained indefinitely
• the right not to be disappeared
• the right to open fair civilian trials
• the right to legal representation
• the right of access to the Red Cross and medical personnel
• the right of access to their families.
3. PREVENT similar treatment of other communities in the future by developing, building and placing political, legal and social infrastructures.
One of the main reasons that Cageprisoners was instituted was due to its ability to reach the Muslim community by understanding its needs from a very personal perspective. Our understanding of the religious aspects of this work and the victims we seek to help has given us a position of responsibility that other organisations are not able to take advantage of. It is thus important that we continue our work bearing in mind the needs of the Muslim communities and the way they would wish to see us work in order that we do not alienate them.
Despite the above, it is important to also remember that we work towards human rights which are transcendental to religion, politics or culture. We seek to help people who have been denied any form of due process and that must be a driving force in our interactions with colleagues and other organisations. Further this also means that Cageprisoners will not restrict itself to only employing or taking on Muslim interns – we recognise that what we work towards has relevance to the promotion of justice and due process regardless of individual backgrounds or beliefs.
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